How Walmart Is Competing With Amazon and Target This Holiday Shopping Season

As Amazon and Target offer free shipping to customers, Walmart is inviting shoppers to its own doors.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail behemoth is hosting in-store fetes for its holiday shoppers at 6 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving Day, promising its “biggest Black Friday sampling party ever” to get customers into the Christmas spirit.

In the two hours leading up to the shopping event, Walmart will provide 4 million cups of Keurig coffee and almost 2 million Christmas cookies from its in-house bakery, all complimentary. Customers will then be able to use the Walmart app’s map feature that includes pins directing them to their neighborhood store’s top deals.

“There really is no bigger or better day of the year than Black Friday,” chief merchandising officer Steve Bratspies said in a statement. “That’s why we are pulling out all the stops to make it a great night for our customers.”

It’s not the first time Walmart has thrown a party to lure shoppers to stores. Last holiday season, it hosted three theme parties across its Supercenters as well as 165,000 product demos for customers to test and taste. The retailer has since been improving its experiential opportunities with mobile checkout and guide maps.

Separately, rivals Amazon and Target are heating up the holiday competition by offering free shipping, with the former nixing its $25 minimum order amount for products arriving in time for Christmas and the latter waiving its $35 minimum along with adding free two-day shipping until Dec. 22.

Other retailers are also getting in on the pre-Black Friday festivities by opening up shop at an earlier time. JCPenney is offering deals beginning at 2 p.m., while customers will be able to pop into department stores Macy’s and Kohl’s starting at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

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